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Why parents should take unpaid child support seriously

We often read about couples who go through bitter courtroom battles just to establish a plan for child support payments only to spend every month after hunting down these payments and making sure they are paid in full and on time. It can be a very frustrating and time-consuming process.

Some people may decide they want to avoid the drama of collecting child support when the paying parent is making things difficult. They want to give the other parent the benefit of the doubt or they just do not want to rock the boat by demanding that a parent pay the support that is owed. While this approach might help avoid immediate conflict, it can prove to be a bad decision down the road.

Child support is not intended to punish the paying parent. It is way for that parent to contribute to a child's life and well-being by assisting with paying for shelter, food and clothing for the child. When a parent cannot or chooses not to make this payment, it is ultimately the child who suffers. Delinquent parents are sending the message that they are not making it a priority to support their child.

However, parents who allow another parent to skip payments or give them multiple chances to get caught up with their financial responsibility are sending a strong message as well. This approach may seem like a good way for custodial parents to keep the peace, but it could just look like there are no consequences to face if a person ignores or neglects his or her responsibilities.

Even if it is just one or a couple of missed payments, this unpaid money can quickly add up. Without the money from child support, custodial parents can struggle enormously when it comes to financial stability and raising a child. This means that a child may end up going without certain things, and that is a punishment kids should not have to suffer.

Parents who fail to pay support need to understand the potential consequences for not paying support. If the local child support enforcement agency gets involved, non-payment can result in the suspension of a driver's license, passport, or professional license. The LCSA can work with the tax authorities to intercept tax refunds. They can seize bank accounts as well. If a parent is seriously delinquent in paying support, they can go to jail for non-payment of support when it is shown that the ability to pay was present.

Working with an attorney in California can be an effective way to establish effective child support ground rules, and going to court may be the best way to make sure these rules are both manageable and enforceable. Parents do not need to be the overly aggressive when it comes to child support, but they should be sure that they are taking their responsibility as parents very seriously.

Source: Newsday, "Is it time to get tough with deadbeat dad?" Amy Dickinson, May 12, 2014

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